Focus Christine. Focus.
A few years ago I was at a chicken take-out drive-thru place recommended to me by some friends. It was right near my then apartment in Marina del Rey, and it was supposed to be great. There were lots of things to choose from on the menu which was like one of those McDonald’s drive-thru menus, not that I go to McDonald’s mind you, except to buy diet coke, which everyone knows is better at McDonalds. I will not distract you from my main message here by extolling the virtues of McDonald’s diet coke. Focus. Anyway, I was speaking to the guy behind the curtain through a speaker box explaining to him that we needed two orders packed separately, as well as perusing the menu which had many options.
“I want one-quarter chicken please. But does it come with that pita bread that my friends told me I have to try, and …”
“Ok, hold on. Focus. I need you to focus on the sides. Don’t worry about anything else, just focus on the sides.”
I stopped dead in my tracks. He needs me to focus on the sides. I immediately started focusing on the sides.
“I’d like the broccoli side please.”
“Ok, now …”
The person with me, who worked with me, burst out laughing. I’m not known for focusing on the sides apparently, but I really do what I’m told when told by a voice belonging to someone I’ve never seen from out of a squawk box at a drive in window. Stop dead in my tracks and do what I’m told.
I remember being at Disney World when Sarah (the perfect child) was five or six with friends and their children. There was a very long line at the hotel to go to Disney World on the rail tram. There were two lines, one was for the premier guests and one was for the regular (don’t remember what they were called) guests. The regular line had about two hundred people in it. The other line, had maybe five plus us. Our hotel was the last stop on the tram before Disney World, and no one was monitoring the line.
The tram pulled in and the last two cars reserved for premier were empty. The other cars were quite full but the other line filled them up and we stepped toward the empty premier cars. I looked back at the line that had stopped moving.
I got in the car and turned back and called out to the line, “Get in! There are two empty cars here and a few hundred children waiting to get to Disney World. Break the mold. Step into the cars with us! This is the last stop before Disney World!! Save yourselves!!!” (Ok, I might not have said, “Save yourselves!”) No one moved, the car doors closed, and we pulled away. I sat down in the empty car feeling dejected.
It has stuck with me all these years. The sheer “follow like sheep” mentality of all those parents not cutting in line. Now, I know I’m from New York and we don’t follow anyone’s directions except for a Democrat President, and we only do that for five minutes after he’s become president. But these were parents. It was hot. It was going to take them hours to get through the line and two cars for each train were going empty to the next stop which was Disney World. How could they not assess the situation and fill up all the cars going? Not one of them moved to the empty premier line.
Twenty years later. And there I was, stopped dead in my tracks, following the voice out of thin air telling me to focus on the sides. I mean I didn’t stop and consider what he said for one minute. I just did it. Was I proud or what? I realize I like being told what to do. But only by strangers? That’s a thought that will fester.
And now, years after my experience at the chicken take out place, I’m still working on focus. It still alludes me. Give me a distraction in any form, and I’m there. I was thinking I might make an audio tape and put it in my iPhone that says, “Focus.” It would have to be the voice of someone I don’t know, but it could be done. I could play it every twenty minutes or so and make sure I’m focusing on what I started and not what distracted me on my way to doing it. Might work.
And, yes I’m aware that this particular post is not really about focus at all, but more about the power of strangers.
I’m going to distract myself with something else now. Have a nice day.